Cantaloupe and Bacon Pasta

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A perfect dish for using some sweet summer melon, this meal is sweet, savory, and delicious. The flavors may sound a little strange, but they balance each other wonderfully. I researched this recipe after having a vegetarian version at an Italian restaurant (simply omit the bacon), and have referred to Emeril Lagasse’s similar recipe for proportioning guidance. However, I prefer slightly bolder flavors that come out in this version. 

Serves 2-3. 

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bacon, diced
  • 2 minced shallots
  • 3 cups diced ripe cantaloupe (from 1 medium cantaloupe)
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced fresh marjoram leaves (1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano leaves (1 tsp dried)
  • fresh basil leaves and parsley (about 1/4 cup) for garnish (alternatively, divide 1 1/2 tbsp pesto)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves (1/4 tsp dried)
  • pinch of dried thyme 
  • 8 ounces spaghetti rigati, linguine, or fettucine
  • about 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until it is crisp and has rendered most of its fat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add in melon and white wine. Stir frequently until the melon completely breaks down and forms a smooth, thick sauce, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the pepper, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, stir in for about 1 minute. Add the cream, and remove the sauce from the heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add the hot pasta to the warm sauce. Return the pan to medium heat, and toss until the pasta is nicely coated with sauce and heated through. Should the sauce seem too thick, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to help toss the pasta and thin the sauce.

Serve the pasta immediately, garnished with the Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil or pesto, and with freshly ground black pepper!

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